More than a third of New Jersey households aren’t bringing in the money they need to cover the basic cost of living, according to a new report from United Way of Northern New Jersey. The 2014 report, named ALICE, focused specifically on “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” residents. They earn more than the federal poverty level, but not enough to make ends meet in the Garden State. When adding ALICE households to those below the poverty line, the report concluded there are 1.2 million households struggling to afford housing, food, transportation, child care and health care. “ALICE is working, ALICE is paying taxes, and still can’t make it,” said John Franklin, United Way’s local CEO. The report noted New Jersey’s poverty line for a family of four – $61,200 – is nearly triple the federal threshold. As the prices for food and care increase all around them, Franklin said, ALICE residents are dealing with stagnant wages. “There’s no one single solution to the ALICE problem,” he added. “There are many things that need to be considered. I think engaging the community in this conversation is an important thing.” The report described the findings as “a crisis in the making for decades.”
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